I will start this blog post with a confession: I have played Pokemon GO. I am not a hardcore hunter of Pokemon by any means, but I have a few in my Pokedex. I will also admit to you that my son and I have specifically gone out driving for no other reason than to hunt Pokemon.
Unless you completely ignore all popular culture and never go to a popular park in your city, you have undoubtedly encountered Pokemon players — people walking through often beautiful spaces such as parks or cities with their faces firmly directed at the screens of their smart phones. These people (the ones playing Pokemon GO, at least) are engaged in three main activities:
Battling in Pokegyms
Replenishing or gaining new supplies at Pokestops
I think there are some striking parallels between Pokemon GO play and the practice of the Christian faith.
1. Christians Look for Opportunities for Good Works
Real Pokemon GO players have their phones on all the time. Kelly and I were at Cooper’s Hawk doing a wine tasting. I looked at the counter in front of the couple next to us and what do I see? Then gentleman in his late 50s or early 60s has his Pokemon GO app running on his phone.
The scriptures tell us that we are re-created in Christ Jesus for to be a positive and redemptive presence in the world.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
I think that the way Pokemon GO players keep their phones on all the time can be a good model for Christians to go through each day with our feelers out, looking for opportunities to do good works.
2. Christians Are Prepared for Spiritual Battle
Part of Pokemon GO entails going into Pokegyms and battling other Pokemon. Part of the Christian life is battling evil, a battle that takes place both in the world and inside ourselves. But just as a Pokemon who is unprepared for battle will not do well, so a Christian who doesn’t develop the disciplines and attitudes to engage spiritual battle will likely not do well. Responding to hate with love is not easy!
Paul writes, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” — Ephesians 6:11 (ESV)
3. Christians Need to Stay Spiritually Charged
Pokestops are the places where Pokemon GO players can get more Pokeballs, along with a host of other things that help them play the game. Christians, too, have spiritual habits that feed the spirit. You could even call them “Godstops” in our lives.
“Pray without ceasing,” — 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
We study the scriptures.
“Rightly handling the word of truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
We gather for worship and encouragement.
“Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other…” — Hebrews 10:25 (CEV)
Pokemon GO is just a game. But the structure and focus of some people’s Pokemon GO play offers a good example to those of us who practice the Christian faith. Imagine going for a walk or drive for no other reason that hoping to find a good work you could do!
What other games, video or otherwise, might offer good examples or parallels to the life of faith?
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